A stitch ripper, also called a seam ripper, is a small tool used to cut the threads in a seam. It consists of a small handle, usually made of plastic, that fits into the palm of your hand, with a two-pronged metal blade on the end of a long shaft. The stitch ripper is an essential tool for anyone who sews, from the beginning stitcher to the seasoned veteran seamstress.
The term "seam ripper" is misleading because the tool does not actually rip the seam. Its purpose is to cut the threads neatly to prevent ripping or tearing of the fabric. This allows a seamstress to alter the size or the hem of a garment without damaging it. It also allows you to fix mistakes in your own sewing projects without the expense of starting all over with new fabric.
Using a stitch ripper is fairly simple; hold the tool like you would hold a steak knife, and slip the longer blade underneath the thread you wish to cut. Gently pull upward so that the blade slices cleanly through the thread. Repeat the process for the rest of the stitches in the seam. Remove the remaining pieces with your fingers, being careful not to pull or snag the fabric.
Because it doesn't damage the fabric, a seam ripper allows you to fix mistakes in your sewing fairly easily. This is especially helpful when dealing with delicate fabrics such as silk or Lycra® that can snag easily. The streamlined design of the blade fits between even the tightest stitching and awkward angles that a pair of scissors would not fit into. Children should always be supervised in the use of a seam ripper, and it should be stored with its safety cap on, which also protects the blade from damage.
Stitch ripppers can be found wherever you purchase sewing supplies. They are generally inexpensive. Because of its light weight and small size, a stitch ripper is a perfect addition to your portable sewing kit. For best performance, replace your stitch ripper when the blade begins to dull.